Donnell Brown Exhibits Excitement for Improving Cattle Health and Wellbeing Through Gene Editing Technology

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Donnell Brown about gene editing technology.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with Donnell Brown, a past president of the National FFA Organization and rancher at the R.A. Brown Ranch out of Throckmorton, Texas. Brown talks with Hays about gene editing in the beef industry.

“The gene editing front is exciting, we have got new things coming along on those fronts, and we are able to edit multiple traits,” Brown said. “We have changed a couple of bulls from Black Angus to Red Angus, building an identical clone that was a Black Angus and now a Red Angus, so we are excited about those things.”

Brown said he believes the most exciting part of gene editing is the ability to improve the health and wellness of cattle.

“What a huge advantage that can be to the industry, especially as consumers are saying, ‘Hey, I want to make sure that if I can get cattle without antibiotics, that I feel better,’” Brown said. “Even though we are judicious users of safe and healthy use of antibiotics just like we are with our families, we are with our livestock.”

If gene editing can help increase productivity, longevity and overall health of cattle, Brown said the value is something that cannot be overlooked. On the gene editing front, Brown said research is being conducted on diseases such as Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), and Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD).

“I believe there are some exciting things in the future coming ahead in the gene editing front in that frontier,” Brown said.

Gene editing is not the same as genetically modifying, Brown said, because it uses the same genes an animal already has and moves them around.

“We are simply reorganizing an animal’s own DNA to kind of rewrite its code,” Brown said. “For example, if you spell thumbtack ‘TAC,’ you take those same exact three letters and you reverse them and come up with ‘CAT.’ Same three letters, but totally different meaning. That is what we are doing with those animal’s DNA at a microscopic level, and it is amazing what we can do.”

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